A Short Story
He turned around in bed under two layers of blankets. “Why is it so cold? Does it have to be this cold?” It’s Thursday. “Yes, it is.” But Monday was a holiday. “I know.” Take the trash out tomorrow.
He turned off the light and took a shower. He put on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, two socks, and walked to the kitchen. What should I eat? “Am I hungry?” No, but I have to eat. He opened the fridge and looked inside. “Hot dogs, eggs, bread. Milk, cheese, butter.”
He turned on the gas and took out a frying pan. “I’d like some eggs. So how would I like my eggs? Do I even want eggs?” Yes, I should eat. “Damn it!”
“What time is it? Already eleven. So, what should I do today?” He suddenly felt a great weight inside his stomach. A tear rolled down his cheek. “What? What did I do? It wasn’t up to me, was it?
“Of course it wasn’t. Had it been my choice, things would be so much different.” No, I know it’s not true. “Of course it is true. Be realistic here! I am the master of my destiny.” Yes, destiny, but not what happens. “And it’s my destiny to be happy.” If all I do is imagine, then I won’t even be a writer. “I want to be happy. I don’t want to be here.” Where would I go? Who would want me?
“There are people who like me, right? Why can’t I be with them?” Well, the last time I was with them, I ran out of things to say. “So that’s not important!” Yes, it is. “How?” Next time, I will also run out of things to say. “No, I won’t. I’ll write them down.” Then why not send them a letter?
He rubbed his face with his hands. The clock was barely moving. He had to get through another day. “Just one more day… And then what?” Nothing. There is nothing. “Where did it go? Didn’t I have everything?” I did, but I lost it, in search for a dream. “But this wasn’t my dream.” I know it wasn’t. “Then why is it like this?”
Why? It’s simple, it’s so simple that it’s a pity no one else will know. My dream was knowledge, but it is this very knowledge that prevents me from living the rest of my life. “I didn’t have to fail on the last step!” I didn’t. The steps after that lead me down. I realized my dream, but the events that followed…
He flipped through the TV guide. No use for a TV guide, since he didn’t watch TV. “What time is it?”
He was a child. In his mind, he was always playing with matches, climbing on trees, and being silly. But along with that, he preserved his curiosity. Seldom did it let him rest, and seldom did he want to shut off his mind. His drive for knowledge excited him. He wanted to experiment, to create and to destroy; he was a magician and a scientist, with effervescent solution of wonder in a small clear container. He drank it.
He questioned life and death. He explored death and defeated his fear of it. He tried to explore life. Since life was so vast, he split it into three categories: energy, matter, and life force itself. He learned how to control energy and to turn it into matter; he learned how to control matter and turn it into energy. When he peeked at life force, he was astounded. There, lay a vast world of knowledge. Few have been privy to this view, this level of consciousness; even fewer accepted it. He was terrified to learn cause and effect, life and death, body and soul. There no longer were good and evil, right and wrong. There were concepts, concepts that could not me written on expressed. He could talk to spirits, and revive lives; he could create, and destroy.
But he never looked in the mirror. He never realized that until he accepted himself, would he be a part of this world. Every thing was perfect. He was not perfect.
He strove to be perfect, to be in harmony with those around him. But soon he realized that until those around him were willing to change and accept him, he would never be happy. He was infinitely happy, and infinitely disappointed, seeing them not see what he saw.
And he started trying. He tried to let them see what he saw. He told them stories, showed them his magic tricks; he read their minds and predicted their future. They fought.
They fought against him. He thought that he could never win. He gave up.
“Why am I here?” I don’t know. “Why am I here? There must be a goal.” Must there be? “Of course. Otherwise, would I be here?” I want to be happy. “I know I do. I do.” What makes me happy? “What makes me happy? Who makes me happy?” Only I can.
“I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m so tired!” Then rest. “No, I can’t rest. I can’t let myself rest.” Why not? “I don’t know why. I just can’t! I’m going for a walk.” He closed all the windows, and locked the door behind him. He threw the key where no one would find it.
He walked. He didn’t want to walk. It was too slow. He jogged. Then he ran. He was sprinting past people, bodies and minds, who were not aware of his problems. What are my problems? “I am not happy.” Why don’t I want to be? “I do, but I don’t know what makes me happy.”
He had to stop. The tunnel was too narrow for two runners.
“Excuse me, are you talking to yourself,” asked a girl he was passing. She was young, had medium-length brown hair, slightly curly. Blue eyes. She was an okay student, with no overt passion for studying. However, what she started, she wanted to finish. She didn’t like to give up. She was a Virgo, a perfectionist; but she liked to have fun. She would often go to parties with her friends (most of her friends were girls), and be somewhat shy starting a conversation. However, she had no trouble continuing it, filling gaps with her charming smile.
She didn’t really know what she wanted in life. She was attending a good college, studying either Biology, or Chemistry, or both. After that, she would probably realize that she wanted to do something entirely different, and switch majors in the beginning of her Junior year. She always knew what she had to do to get what she wanted. Sometimes, she had to work hard; sometimes, she just had to wait.
She liked volleyball and swimming; she would often go to the beach. She said that she enjoyed walks on the beach; but he knew that she has never searched for the meaning in life. She enjoyed things that made her content; but deep inside, she did not know why she lived. However, because she was afraid to find out, she never tried.
“Hi. Yes, I am.” He smiled.
“No one else to talk to?”
“No one else knows what I’m saying.”
“I’ll understand you.”
“What makes you happy?” He knew that she didn’t know.
“Um… Being with my friends and family; summer; going to the beach, playing volleyball…”
“Your names starts with A… Alice?”
“How did you know?”
“Lucky guess?” He smiled. “What makes me happy?”
“I don’t know. What does?”
“I don’t know either.” And if I don’t know, I don’t expect anyone else to know, either. “I don’t.”
He sat down, his legs crossed, and looked at her. He knew she wouldn’t sit unless he explicitly asked her. She remained standing. “I am lost. I am lost, and I need someone to help me.”
“I want to help you.” She put her hand on his shoulder. She had small hands. They were soft and warm. His watch beeped. It was noon.
They were sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch of her house. They jogged all the way back—he ran with her all the way back—and she invited him to stay. He sat down, and she sat next to him. He closed his eyes and leaned back. She was sitting and watching the sun, as it was setting from the pink skies into the deep blue ocean. He suddenly put his head on her shoulder, and started sobbing.
“Me. Me, why, why do I always do this?”
“No, no, no! This isn’t what I am supposed to do.”
“What are you talking about?” She gave him a caring hug.
“I saw the text, and I read it. It said that I could go if I wanted to go. And I did. But then I came back, and destroyed it. And they welcomed me. How could I be so blind before?”
“What are you talking about?”
“You can’t think of yourself as one thing, because you are not one thing. You are not one Alice, and because you have so many different things about yourself, so many people like you! Same with me!”
“See, there isn’t one me, no. There is the physical me, and the mental, or spiritual, me.”
He looked deeply into her eyes. She smiled, and from her smile, he knew that she understood. “Of course there is only one you; but there are many projections of you that you use to let others know you better. In that way, there are many versions of you.” She continued smiling. “But the important thing is to know your true self, and not a projection.” He sobbed. “Why was I like this?”
“I have explicitly forbidden myself to be happy. Of course I didn’t realize that, but I did it.”
“It’s my subconsciousness. I don’t know how exactly it works, but I do know that I was not happy. I was afraid.”
“I flew to see the ghost. At first, she tried to scare me. Then she tried to make me believe that she was my kin, trying to be nice. Then I said, ‘I am not afraid of you anymore,’ and I left. I flew to the house and stood in the darkness. I looked around and saw nothing. I said, ‘I am not afraid anymore.’ I flew over to the church. Everyone was gone, except for a gray screen. It stood there, and I looked at it. It could hear me. I said, ‘I am not afraid anymore.’ I looked at it, and through it. It was nothing. And then, I flew away. I was no longer afraid. I am no longer afraid.”
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He gave her a hug, and something else. Now, when she was with him, she could understand him. When she held his hands, she could hear his voice, and along with it, millions of other voices, speaking of beauty and truth, and life and joy. They told her things she failed to see earlier. And now she could understand him—and herself. She believed him and admired him and loved him, and he—her.
He walked outside and took off his socks. He closed the door shut and took a deep breath. He took a step on the grass—it was cold and wet. He walked on the road, and started jogging. Then running. Then sprinting. His feet could feel the hard rocky surface they were rubbing—but he did not care. He ran up the hill, and stopped. He ran downhill. He did a cartwheel and a round-off. Then he dove into the dew and lay in the grass. He lay in the middle of the road and prayed to the starts and the street lights, and to Alice, and to himself. He was happy.
He looked at his crude tools. He turned his head. He looked in the mirror. No. No, no, no. “No what?” Why would I ever let them do anything to me? “Why?” I don’t know, but I do know that I won’t do that anymore. I am no longer afraid. “Why was I afraid?” I was afraid of the ghost. But I know I am stronger than she is. Yes, I am. “Yes, I am.”
I’m tired. “Then I’m going to sleep.” No, I’m not. “But I should go to sleep.” I will, I will just when I finish this letter. “She’s going to like it.” I know she is.
“I know that no one can ever see exactly what I see, in the same way that I see it, but that’s not what I want. All I want is to be happy, and all I need to be happy is to not constrict myself, and to allow myself to feel joy. And while there are people who discourage me, there are people who want me to be happy. But only I will plot the course of my life.” They both smiled, and nothing else mattered, because they were happy.